CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to receive shipment of mAb-based COVID drug by mid-June

06/11/2021 07:57 PM
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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung. Photo courtesy of the CECC
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, June 11 (CNA) Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has recently ordered a monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based drug used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients and expects to receive delivery by mid-June.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, announced the drug purchase at the center's regular press conference Friday, but he did not identify the drug or say how many doses had been purchased.

A CECC press release indicated that the shipment will have enough doses to treat 1,000 patients.

Chen said the drug will be used to treat patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of clinical progression, to lower the risk of patients becoming seriously ill and having to be hospitalized.

The drug will be distributed to hospitals that also serve as quarantine centers, the CECC said, noting that there, patients will be treated with the mAb-based combination medicine with a physician's diagnosis.

Citing international studies, Chen said the number of COVID-19 patients with mild systems accounted for approximately 80 percent of the total.

Some 9 percent of such patients can become seriously ill, however, often because of such risk factors as an old age, obesity, chronic kidney failure, cardiovascular disease/high blood pressure, chronical lung disease, immunosuppression diseases/immunosuppression therapy, and pregnancy, he said.

As the domestic outbreak remains strong and is pushing medical resources for severe cases to the brink, the CECC decided to introduce mAb drugs after obtaining proof of their efficacy and safety in treating moderate or mild cases of COVID-19, Chen said.

He was referring to the fact that the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) and some other countries have released an emergency use authorization (EUA) for clinical use of anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies in treating mild to moderate COVID-19 in non-hospitalized patients.

It gave EUA to Regeneron, an antibody cocktail of casirivimab plus imdevimab, in November 2020 and to Eli Lilly and Company's bamlanivimab and etesevimab in February 2021.

The drugs are used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in non-hospitalized patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe disease and/or hospitalization, according to the COVID-19 treatment guidelines published by the U.S. National Institute of Health.

As of Thursday, 84 percent of confirmed cases in Taiwan were patients with mild to moderate symptoms. The fatality rate was at 2.7 percent and rising.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Chiang Hui-chun and Elizabeth Hsu)

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